How to Ask for Help for Addiction

2 min read · 4 sections
If you are one of the many people in the U.S. struggling with drug or alcohol misuse or addiction, you are not alone. Deciding to get help is one of the biggest but often challenging steps you can take. However, it can be life changing. By enrolling in an evidence-based addiction treatment program, you can learn how to live a healthier life without drugs and alcohol.1
What you will learn:
What addiction is
How to ask for help if you struggle with addiction
How you can get the help you need
What you can expect from the treatment process

What Is Addiction?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between substance misuse and addiction. Substance misuse is defined as the use of prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol in high doses or in inappropriate situations, which can cause health and/or social problems immediately or over time. What does this mean exactly? It can mean taking a prescription medication in a manner other than the way in which it was prescribed, taking someone else’s prescription, or taking it to get high. It can also mean binge drinking. For men, this generally means consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion (within a few hours) and 4 or more alcoholic drinks for women.2 Misuse of substances can result in a range of serious consequences, from an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) to overdose and death.2

Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder (SUD), is categorized as a chronic and relapsing disorder that includes compulsive drug-seeking behavior and continued use despite negative consequences. It is a brain disorder that disrupts areas of the brain that are responsible for self-control, reward, and stress management.3 In 2022, 48.7 million people aged 12 or older met the criteria for a substance use disorder.4

Additionally, other addiction statistics from 2022 include the following:4

  • Of those 48.7 million, 29.5 million of them met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • Of the 29.5 million with an AUD, 1 in 5 of them had a severe AUD.
  • 2 million of the 48.7 million individuals met the criteria for a drug use disorder.
  • 8 million of them had both an alcohol use disorder and a drug use disorder.
  • 19 million of the individuals had a marijuana use disorder.
  • 7% of adults aged 18 or older with a SUD did not receive any form of addiction treatment.

Furthermore, in 2022, millions of individuals aged 12 or older misused various prescription medications. In fact, 8.5 million individuals misused prescription pain relievers, 4.8 million misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives, and 4.3 million misused prescription stimulants.4

The good news is that treatment can help, but it can be overwhelming to take that first step and reach out to get it.

How to Ask for Help with Addiction from a Loved One

Chances are pretty good that your loved ones are already aware of your substance misuse and/or addiction. That’s because substance use and addiction can impact not only you but family and friends as well.5 Family members may notice changes in your mood and behavior related to substance use.6

While you might initially want to keep your substance use a secret or be apprehensive about sharing your struggles with loved ones, the support family members can offer can be key in helping you get the treatment you need.7

There are some things that you can try to help you open up about your substance use or misuse with loved ones you trust. These strategies include:

  • Finding a place where you feel comfortable talking. Maybe you invite them over to your home, or perhaps you meet them in a favorite park where you like to walk.
  • Identifying a time free of distractions. Pick a time to talk to your loved one when neither of you needs rush to be somewhere.
  • Talking honestly about what you are experiencing and validating any concerns they express about your substance use.
  • Telling them you need help and asking them to support you through your recovery process.
  • Being patient with yourself and your loved ones and recognizing that change takes time.

Who Else Can You Ask for Help with Addiction?

Unfortunately, not everyone has a strong support system, and some people who struggle with a substance use disorder come from an unstable living environment. If you are one of those who don’t have a supportive family member or close loved one to turn to for help, there are others who can assist you.

Talking to your primary care physician (PCP) or mental healthcare provider—both of whom can provide referrals for substance use treatment programs—is a good place to start. These healthcare professionals can help in many ways, including:8

  • Assessing your substance use history.
  • Evaluating your overall physical and mental health and identifying any underlying health conditions.
  • Collaborating with you to create an addiction treatment plan.
  • Exploring the possibility of medications as part of your treatment plan.

Additionally, if you’re without a supportive network of family or friends, mutual-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide encouragement and sober support to help you in your recovery. While AA and NA shouldn’t replace a rehab center’s formal treatment program—that can help you get to the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that lead to substance use—these peer-led groups can be a great place to find the support you need.8

How to Get Help with Substance Misuse and Addiction

Treatment options exist and research has shown that addiction is treatable. Left untreated, addiction can lead to serious physical and mental health consequences.3 If you’re struggling, talk to a friend, loved one, or healthcare professional about your desire to get help.

You can also call us. At American Addiction Centers (AAC), we understand the importance of providing quality, evidence-based treatment to help you stop using drugs and alcohol. Call to speak to one of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators, who can listen to your story, answer your questions, explain the services we offer, verify your insurance coverage, and help you begin your recovery journey.

AAC offers different levels of care—from detox to inpatient treatment and outpatient programs—all of which provide a combination of services, including psychoeducation, individual and group counseling, behavioral therapies designed to help you identify the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that trigger your substance use and teach you strategies to prevent relapse.8

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